The Van Wert County Courthouse

Monday, Feb. 26, 2024

Ohio House OKs conceal carry legislation

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COLUMBUS — HB 203, a bill that seeks to update Ohio’s concealed carry program, has passed the Ohio House by a 62-27 vote, and will now be forwarded to the Ohio Senate for consideration.

HB 203 has significant support as shown by the overwhelming House vote. Buckeye Firearms Association and the NRA have both endorsed the legislation, which seeks to make many improvements to Ohio’s concealed carry laws.

concealed carry artworkThe bill would strengthen the background checks required to obtain an Ohio Concealed Handgun License (CHL). Under the bill, Ohio CHL applicants would need to pass a NICS-compliant background check (National Instant Check System), making it compatible with more states. This improvement will also help prevent people with mental health disqualifiers who have been entered into the federal database from obtaining a CHL.

The bill would also move Ohio to an automatic reciprocity system, relieving the Attorney General from the requirement to sign agreements with every state for reciprocity. The Attorney General would still be permitted to sign agreements if needed, but the bill seeks to streamline the process and open up agreements with states such as Indiana, Pennsylvania, and Georgia with which Ohio does not currently have agreements.

“Reciprocity remains a critical issue for people with a CHL,” said Jim Irvine, President of Buckeye Firearms Association. “Background checks have been a hot topic since the Newtown killings, and ours has some issues that should be addressed. This bill makes sure people with disqualifying offenses are not issued CHL’s. This is something everyone should be happy about.”

The bill would also update the requirements and disqualifications to obtain an CHL. Currently there are different standards to possess a gun under federal and state law, and different still to obtain a CHL. HB 203 harmonizes Ohio law with federal law so that someone who is prohibited under federal law from possessing a firearm will not be issued a CHL. Ohio would also be able to issue licenses to out-of-state residents, something many other states already do.

Under the bill, required topics for Ohio CHL training would remain the same, but the arbitrary mandate that requires instructors to spend 12 hours covering those topics would be reduced to four hours. Most experienced instructors agree that the same training can be covered in less time.

“Ohio has one of the nation’s most egregious CHL training requirements,” said Irvine. “Other states have seen that more people get training when the time requirement is reduced. We are strong advocates of training and want to see more people become trained in the safe use of firearms. But padding the classes to fill 12 hours when the same information can be effectively covered in less time makes no sense.

Finally, HB 203 seeks to modify the state’s self-defense law. Current law specifically states that a person has no duty to retreat before using deadly force if that person is in he or her own home or automobile. HB 203 would expand that to anyplace that a person lawfully has the right to be.

“The law should not impose specific ‘duties’ on people whose lives are in jeopardy,” observed Sean Maloney, a Cincinnati-area attorney specializing in self-defense and firearm law. “It should protect the innocent and their right to defend their own life from criminal attack. The bill would not otherwise change the threshold to legally use lethal force in defending one’s life.”

POSTED: 11/21/13 at 8:39 am. FILED UNDER: News